Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a “light bulb” and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy – a helper – who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work.
You’ve probably guessed what happened by now; the poor young fellow dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs for another go at it. But here’s the thing – he gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. That’s true forgiveness.
Jesus’ take on forgiveness
One day Peter asks Jesus, “Rabbi, clear this up for me…. How many times must I forgive a brother or sister who’s offended me? Seven times?” The vignette is insightful as it tells us something about Peter. It is obvious that old peter has a conflict that’s chewing on his soul. Jesus replies, “Peter, Peter… Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Jesus is teaching Peter and anyone that has ears to listen, that forgives is to be a lifestyle not a commodity we dole out to our loved ones when and if we decide they are worthy of our forgiveness.
Forgiveness and the marital bond
It’s been said that forgiveness is akin to releasing a prisoner… and that prisoner is me. When we practice forgiveness in our marriage or intimate relationships, we are not only giving our partners room to breathe and live, we are giving ourselves an opportunity to walk with renewed vigor and purpose. Seventy times seven: this means forgiving and restoring constantly.
Partners must also atone for wrongdoing and hold one another accountability, but forgiveness in a marriage must always be the presupposition.